It’s been 128 days since the Houston Dynamo last played a competitive match. If you have forgotten what happened on March 7, I don’t blame you. Tonight the Dynamo return to the field for the first time since that forgetful night in Kansas City. Things aren’t going to be any easier this go around as Houston opens their MLS is Back Tournament taking on reigning Supporter’s Shield winners LAFC. You can watch the match on FS1 or TUDN at 7 PM CT. The game is also available on radio in Houston on 1010 AM. Here are three things to watch tonight.
No Vela, no problem?
Reigning MLS Most Valuable Player Carlos Vela will not be playing in the MLS is Back Tournament with LAFC. Vela made the decision to stay in California to be with his wife for the birth of their second child. Not having a player who scored the most goals in league history last season might be a problem for most teams, but LAFC aren’t most teams. Without Vela available, Bob Bradley still has plenty of options available, including Adama Diomande, Diego Rossi, Latif Blessing, Brian Rodriguez, and a former two-time Golden Boot winner in MLS in Bradley Wright-Phillips.
Don’t sleep on the Dynamo attack
While LAFC has a myriad of attacking options, as we discussed above, don’t sleep on the firepower the Dynamo can put out on offense. Forward Christian Ramirez left the bubble in Orlando to attend the birth of his second child (congrats Christian and family!), but the Dynamo and Tab Ramos will still have choices in the attack. Mauro Manotas, Memo Rodriguez, Alberth Elis, Darwin Quintero, Tomas Martinez, Niko Hansen, Tommy McNamara, Marcelo Palomino, and Michael Salazar give Ramos a number of options when filling out his lineup. If you have been watching any of the MLS tournament or other soccer around the world, you know there are now five substitutions allowed by each team. With this new rule the Dynamo can essentially rotate their front 3 mid-game, keeping guys fresh and ideally not seeing much of a drop-off.
This one counts
Tonight’s match, and all of the group stage matches, will count in the MLS regular season standings. With a draw in the opener against LA Galaxy and a loss to Sporting Kansas City back in March, the Dynamo are looking for their first win of the season. With the season tentatively scheduled to resume some time after the tournament in Florida, the Dynamo can’t afford to drop many points in what should be a tough Western Conference. Advancing out of the group should be the goal for Houston but with LAFC, the Galaxy, and the Portland Timbers on the schedule, gaining some points in Orlando could prove to be valuable if and when the season resumes.